Lines, notes and what to watch

This season, the New York Rangers (45-20-6) have won two of three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins (41-20-10). The Penguins won Game 1 in a 1-0 goalie duel between Tristan Jarry and Igor Shesterkin on Feb. 26. However, the Penguins lost the next two, including an embarrassing 5-1 loss at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago.

The puck drops just after 7 p.m. at MSG. Don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s one of the only ESPN+/Hulu games. At least you could hang out with the ever-pleasant puck head, Linda Cohn.

The Penguins have been hampered by the fast Rangers, who also have exceptional goaltenders.

“It’s a big game. We weren’t happy with the previous two (games) against them. So I think with our team play, the way the two (previous games) have gone – I think we’ll be ready to play (Thursday) and definitely look for a better effort and a better result,” said Penguins forward Jeff Carter.

Tristan Jarry and Igor Shesterkin will face off again.

However, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said Jason Zucker will not be available. For the first time since his frightening injury last Thursday, Zucker participated fully in Penguins practice on Wednesday. However, he is not quite ready.

The Penguins trail New York by four points in the subway, and New York has three more ROWs (regulation, overtime wins). So a Penguins loss would put them five or six points behind with just nine games left. It’s not impossible, but… it’s long.

If the Penguins win, they trail by just two points, and the battle for second place and home ice in Round 1 will rage on.

Rangers’ speed has been problematic for the Penguins. However, after a heavy workload this season, Shesterkin could burn out. He posted just a .916 save percentage in March 10 appearances. He’s been scored for three or more goals in three of his last five games. His last two starts were losses to the New York Islanders and a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Shesterkin has stopped only 38 of his last 44 shots (.864).

Pittsburgh Penguins expected lines:

L.W. VS RW
Jake Guentzel Sidney Crosby Bryan Rust
Rickard Rakell Yevgeny Malkin Jeff Carter
Evan Rodrigues Teddy Bleuger Kasperi Kapanen
Danton Heinen Brian Boyle Anthony Angel

LD DR
Brian Dumoulin Kris Letang
Mike Matheson John Marin
Marc Friedman Chad Ruhwedel

Goalie
Tristan Jarry
Casey DeSmith

Rangers lines expected, per PuckPedia.com:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Vatrano

Panarin-Strome-Copp

Lafreniere-Chytil-Goodrow

Motte-Brodzinski-Hunting

Defense:

Lindgren Fox

Miller-Trouba

Nemeth-Schnieder

Goalie:

Igor Shesterkin

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:

*INJURIES Brock McGinn, upper body (12 straight, 15 overall), Nathan Beaulieu, lower body (8 straight, 8 overall), Jason Zucker, lower body (2 straight, 39 overall). Total number of men’s games lost in the 2021-22 regular season: 253

*The Rangers have a much better record in one-goal games (21-6-6) than the Penguins (13-7-10).

*Rangers are 16-3-1 when tied after two periods. The Penguins are just 8-2-5.

*Rickard Rakell has nine points (3-6-9) in 14 career games against the New York Rangers.

*Bryan Rust set a new career high with his 57th point (23-34-57) of the season, surpassing his previous high of 56 set in 55 games during the 2019-20 season. Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Rust has 155 points (72G-83A) in 160 games.

* Jeff Carter became the 20th active player and seventh member of the 2003 draft class to accumulate over 800 NHL points along with Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry and Zach Parise.

*The Penguins are 22-9-5 in 36 road games this season. The team’s road wins (22), points (49) and shorthanded percentage (88.8%) all lead the NHL.

How to watch:

TV: ESPN+, Hulu; Radio: 105.9 The X

Like many of you, I don’t think the NHL should allow Disney to hide a marquee game from streaming, especially when it’s a full minute, or more, behind the actual game.

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